UFC >>>> WEC

After UFC 132, a guy named Chris Chapman (I don’t know him) posted this tweet:

“Seems like all the #wec vets are just rippin it up in the @ufc @DustinPoirier @CarlosCondit @Cowboycerrone @MarkHominick @TheDomin8r”

I infer from this tweet that Chris is trying to say (what many others have before him) that the WEC guys are vindicating themselves with their success in the UFC. That is, the WEC fighters were just as good as the UFC fighters. If I’m mischaracterizing his view, I apologize, but there are many who feel this way, and this is directed to all of them whether Chris is one of them or not. (FYI, Meisha Tate once made this argument directly to me. That was so long ago, I couldn’t possibly find that tweet.)

Based on the people he lists, Chris is clearly missing the point, or at least my point. I’m firmly in the camp that the WEC was a minor league, and that if any of those lightweights belonged in the UFC before the WEC folded, they’d have been moved there by then. This isn’t saying that fighters who’ve ever fought in the WEC must suck today. It’s saying that once they were good enough to move into the UFC, they’d be moved, especially during the period that Zuffa owned WEC (the transfer would be easy). If they weren’t moved before the WEC folded, there was a good reason for that: they weren’t ready for the big time. Accordingly, this means that this debate takes place solely in the lightweight division, though if UFC fighters moved down to the Featherweight division, or WEC lightweight fighters moved up to the Middleweight division, those fights would be relevant to the discussion. I don’t believe the latter has occurred yet.

However, because the “cream always rises to the top,” you should expect the possibility, even in a minor league, for the top couple of guys to be UFC-caliber material. With that in mind, I find it odd that Chris left Benson Henderson and Andy Pettis off the list. Both of those guys are UFC-caliber, and the fact that Pettis lost doesn’t change that. Also, I have a feeling that Jose Aldo will beat Kenny Florian, though how much this has to do with Kenny’s choking tendencies and weight shift versus how much this has to do with Jose just being better is a philosophical question we’ll never be able to answer. That’s okay, though, because we don’t need to answer it; Jose is the WEC champ, and as I noted, the cream always rises to the top.

Also, the UFC didn’t have a featherweight or bantamweight division, so the WEC probably can say it had the best in those divisions while it was under the Zuffa umbrella. Fighters in those weight classes resolve nothing in this debate. Let’s examine the rest of his list to see if his (inferred) logic holds.

Dustin Poirier
Featherweight. Proves nothing. Also, his only two UFC fights were against guys who otherwise had no UFC fights under their belt, so it wouldn’t have proved anything anyway.

Carlos Condit
Moved to the UFC quickly after the WEC was acquired because the UFC recognized his individual talent. Proves nothing.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Beat Paul Kelly, a middle-of-the-road, but established UFC vet, and beat Vagner Rocha, who otherwise has no UFC experience.

Mark Hominick
Featherweight. Proves nothing. Also, his only UFC fight was against another WEC vet, so it wouldn’t have proved anything anyway.

Dominick Cruz
Bantamweight. Proves nothing. Also, his only UFC fight was against another WEC vet, so it wouldn’t have proved anything anyway.

So, Cowboy Cerrone represents a single person that wasn’t one of the best in the WEC, yet has beaten an established UFC fighter. That’s it. I know of no other WEC veteran that can make that claim. As of this moment, we have three WEC lightweight fighters that can honestly say they belong in the UFC.

Some of you might bring up Javier Vasquez, who recently beat Joe Stevenson at UFC Live on Versus 4, but that also proves nothing. Everyone who’s been watching the UFC knows that Joe Stevenson no longer belongs in the UFC. Beating him is like beating another WEC vet. Besides, Joe moved down a weight class, so the fight was at featherweight, and I suspect that for every Javier Vasquez, there’s going to be about five Diego Nunes who get outclassed by a legitimate UFC fighter (Kenny Florian) even when he switches weight classes.

You might also bring up Anthony Njokuani’s win last night over Andre Winner, but I’ll be similarly unimpressed with that. As I pointed out in my UFC 132 picks and UFC 132 Postmortem, Andre is in the UFC not because he’s deserving but because Dana White is trying to improve his base in the English market. Anthony’s inability to put away a helpless Andre Winner vindicates my view. Though I don’t wish it on him, I predict Anthony will be embarrassed in his first fight against legitimate UFC talent. I also predict that you WEC apologists will in turn blame that on a poor match up. In a sense, you’re right. The poor matchup will be the fact that he’s matched up against legitimate UFC talent.

Tyson Griffin also dropped to Featherweight and beat Manny Gambruyan, but I’m not hanging my hat on this one to make my argument. First, it was a close fight that could have gone either way. Second, Manny was in the WEC only because of his weight drop to Featherweight. As far as I’m concerned, he would have been a UFC-caliber fighter if he had moved back up to lightweight.

Chris (and/or the rest of you) are going to have to do better than shouting, “Cowboy Cerrone!” to convince me that the WEC talent pool was even competitive with (let alone, as good as) the UFC talent pool. So far, I see only three lightweight fighters (from the last days of the WEC) that are deserving of their place on the UFC roster, and two of them (Pettis and Henderson) should be expected to be there anyway and therefore don’t defeat my argument. To be clear, if you want to defeat my argument, you’re going to have to show

    1.) at least a few more fighters that were
    2.) lightweights in the WEC at the time it was absorbed into the UFC, and
    3.) have come into the UFC and beat fighters that are neither washed up nor on the roster for reasons other than fighting ability.

Good luck with that.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
Follow the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on Twitter @ufc
Follow Chris Chapman on Twitter @chrischapman21
Follow Dustin Poirier on Twitter @DustinPoirier
Follow Carlos Condit on Twitter @CarlosCondit
Follow Donald Cerrone on Twitter @Cowboycerrone
Follow Mark Hominick on Twitter @MarkHominick
Follow Dominick Cruz on Twitter @TheDomin8r
Follow Miesha Tate on Twitter @MieshaTate
Follow Benson Henderson on Twitter @SMOOTHone155
Follow Anthony Pettis on Twitter @Showtimepettis
Follow Jose Aldo on Twitter @josealdojunior
Follow Kenny Florian on Twitter @kennyflorian
Follow Versus MMA on Twitter @VsMMA
Follow Joe Stevenson on Twitter @joestevenson
Follow Diego Nunes on Twitter @thegunnunes

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